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White House Swearing-In of the Secretary of Defense
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld , The Oval Office, The White House Washington, DC , Friday, January 26, 2001

Vice President Richard Cheney: Good afternoon, Mr. President, Mr. Secretary, and Ms. Rumsfeld. We're here today to swear in Don Rumsfeld as secretary of defense and welcome him back to public service.

In 1969 Don asked me to join him here in the White House staff, some 32 years ago, and [it] was a turning point for me, from the standpoint of my career. From that day on, he kept me busy enough so that I forgot about my graduate studies, gave up any idea of ever returning to academia [soft laughter] and set me on a path that I've never regretted. And I'm glad that once again our paths have crossed in the White House.

We were colleagues in government for nearly six years, including right here on August 9th, 1974, at the beginning of the Ford administration. Later on, when Don went to the Pentagon, I replaced him as White House chief of staff. Some regard him as the best secretary of defense we ever had. I would say he was one of the best. [Laughter.]

In truth, no one has come to the Pentagon with deeper knowledge of the job, its history, or its present challenges than Don Rumsfeld. Here, quite simply, is a man who's been an executive, a statesman, and a human being of the first order. His selection, together with that of Secretary [of State Colin] Powell and [National Security Advisor] Dr. [Condoleezza] Rice, gives America the kind of national security team that President Bush promised -- experienced, creative, and forward-looking.

I would ask at this point Judge Larry Silverman to administer the oath of office.

[Judge Silverman administers the oath.]

Judge Silverman: Congratulations, Don.

President Bush: Mr. Secretary. It's a great honor to welcome Secretary Rumsfeld and his wife and family here to the Oval Office. Thank you all for coming. In swearing in Don Rumsfeld, we have just sworn in a leader of exceptional strength and ability and vision, and I am grateful that he has returned his service to our country.

Don and I have set three clear goals to guide American defense policy. First, we will strengthen the bond of trust between the American people and those who wear our nation's uniform. We'll give them the tools they need and the respect they deserve. Second, we will work to defend our people and our allies against growing threats -- the threats of missiles, information warfare, the threats of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. We will confront the new threats of a new century. Third, we will begin creating the military of the future -- one that takes full advantage of revolutionary new technologies. We will promote the peace by redefining the way wars will be fought. These are great and exciting objectives, and our new secretary of Defense is uniquely qualified to accomplish them.

As a former Navy pilot, Don Rumsfeld understands that if we ever send our forces into harm's way, we must sent them fully prepared and equipped for the dangers they face.

As a highly successful businessman, he understands that we must modernize and transform the business of defense, getting the value for our taxpayers' money. He is willing to challenge the status quo inside the Pentagon. As the head of the National Commission on Ballistic Missile Threats, he is among the countries most informed experts on this vital issue. As a former congressman, he understands the need to work closely with the Congress. As a former White House chief of staff, as a former secretary of defense, he understands what it takes to be a leader.

This is an exceptional history of service, and Don Rumsfeld is an exceptional man with integrity and honesty as a cornerstone of his foundation. Mr. Secretary, congratulations.

Secretary Rumsfeld: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, I thank you so much for the confidence you've placed in me, for the honor you do me, and for giving me the opportunity, as you said one day, to serve as secretary of defense -- again. [Laughter.]

I have thought a good deal about the remarks you have made during the course of the campaign and since your election. And, as you know, I share your hopes and your expectations for the Department of Defense and for the armed forces of the United States of America. I am an enthusiastic supporter of those goals.

I listened to your inaugural address with a great deal of interest and pleasure and congratulate you on it. It is something I think all of us would do well to reread from time to time. It carries an important message about you and about our country and about your administration.

I know that Dick remembers this. When we served in the White House, there was a man around quite a bit named Bryce Harlow. And he always said that it's important for people who work in this house to leave it better than they found it. I am proud to be working for someone who will do that, and I know you will. Thank you very much.